Without love,

life is a journey through a desert. John Miller

Life as Love, Love as Music

Posted by thesinger on May 12, 2007

Recently I was reading in the book “Three Philosophies of Life” by Peter Kreeft. He says there are three ways of looking at life. We can either look at life as the writer of Ecclesiastes: Life is vanity; like Job: Life as Suffering; or we can look at life as the Song of Songs: Life as Love. I am going to talk to you about Life as Love this morning.

Kreeft says that love is twenty-nine things. I won’t bother listing them all, but would like to spend time with the first idea and also quote freely from his book.

Idea #1 says that “Love is a Song”. I quote, “God is love, and music is the language of love; therefore, music is the language of God. Music is a language more profound than words. How often have you heard a great piece of music and felt that? Great music does not just make you feel good; great music suggests some profound truth of mysterious meaning that is objectively true but not translatable into words. Attempts to translate music’s meaning into words always fail. It is like trying to allegorize a symbol, trying to reduce to one literal, verbal meaning something that has many nonliteral, nonverbal meanings. Love fits this pattern: (1) it is not only subjective feeling but objective truth, (2) it is both mysterious and meaningful, and (3) its meaning is never reducible to to words. The wooden trap of words can never capture the lobster of love, any more than a wooden “interpretation” of the meaning of a piece of music can capture the music itself.”

“I think music was the language in which God created the world. Both C. S. Lewis (in The Magician’s Nephew) and J. R. R. Tolkien (in The Silmarillion) tell this story, and it goes back to a very old tradition, probably older than Pythagoras and his “music of the spheres”. We moderns usually think of music as a later ornament added on to speech, but I suspect it is the opposite: speech is a later development from music. Song is not fancified poetry and poetry fancified prose; prose is ossified poetry and poetry ossified song. The reason I think this is because (1) “In the beginning, God”, (2) “God is love”, and (3) love is not a speech. We do not ever speak of “love speeches”, only of “love songs”.

“Therefore, in the beginning was the Song of Songs. This book [Song of Solomon] goes even farther back than Genesis, into the eternal heart of the Trinity.

So, there you have it, a long discourse on Love as Music. I am inspired by how he so tastefully explained how that music can never be reduced into “wooden” words. Whenever I try to explain how music has power to move people, etc., etc., I can’t seem to express myself well at all. That is just the way God made music to work; whenever you try to explain music away, your tongue gets all tied in knots, you lose your breath, and nothing comes out right. Trying to explain the power of music is virtually impossible.


Drop a comment on whether or not you agree or disagree with Kreeft in this particular excerpt.


6 Responses to “Life as Love, Love as Music”

  1. Very well stated.

  2. random thinker said

    glad to see that you posted again, nice…….and true, I know the feeling when you come across a good song, it gives me good peachy creamy feeling inside đŸ™‚

  3. As a lover of music, I can easily follow what Kreeft is saying, and of course i agree. What I would find impossible to explain (the power of music and the lovely way it connects us with God), he’s worded so beautifully.
    Thanx for sharing!

  4. um said

    What he says sounds right. Who is Peter Kreeft?

  5. thesinger said

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kreeft would be a good place to start. In short, he is a Catholic Christian philosopher, writer, and professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King’s College. Sound good?

  6. Jewel said

    That book is fascinating. It was so kind of Craig to loan it to me. I’m afraid I paid more attention to his expositions on Job and Ecclesiastes though.

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